CMED (Community Managed Empowerment and Development) programme aims at the overall development of the communities in the slums of Rajam, Andhra Pradesh. CMED initiatives are specific to the communities for which they are designed and are based on the needs analysis of those communities.
The programme was first launched in May 2003 in the Medara (basket weavers) street of Rajam. Later it was extended to Harijan street in 2004; Dhobi and SC Streets in 2005; Cleaners' Street in 2006; Yatha (Toddy tappers) Street in 2009 and a second SC (Madiga) Street and Barbers Street in 2010.
A 'Push' to Income
- A study is taken up initially in the selected communities to understand their sources of income as well as leakages. Based on the identified gaps and opportunities, appropriate programs are designed and implemented in those communities. Some of the activities initiated in the CMED target areas include Tuition Centers, Common Interest Groups (CIG), Night schools, Bala Badis, Public Toilets, Sanitation Drive, Drinking water supply in summer, De-addiction programs etc.
- CIGs in Medara (Bamboo basket weavers) and Dhobi streets were provided interest-free loans for purchasing bamboo raw material, push carts and iron boxes for ironing. People are able to save Rs.30/ to Rs.50/ per week besides paying their loan installments regularly. This would enable them to become self-sufficient very soon, bringing them out of the debt-trap of money lenders.
- Night Schools help the adult women to read and write and also create awareness on sanitation, personal hygiene and environment.
- About 500 children are regularly attending Tuition Centers in all the slums. All these children who were earlier glued to TV sets are today spending that time at the Tuition Centers.
- An exclusive Tuition Center is run for differently-abled.
- Awareness programs on nutrition, ante-natal and post-natal care for pregnant women are conducted and nutritious food items like leafy vegetables, dal, eggs, fruits etc. are provided.
- The Bala Badis prepare children for school and help instilling discipline and awareness about cleanliness among slum children.
- "Suvidha" Public toilets plugged open defecation in Rajam. This indirectly had a positive fall out on the living conditions of the slum dwellers.
- Foundation provided 10 tri-cycles to Rajam Nagara Panchayat (RNP) for door to door garbage collection in support of "Clean Rajam" drive.
- There is visible community participation as well. For example, households in Medara Street have made innovative use of bamboo baskets as dust bins. This ensured systematic disposal of garbage in their area.
- Celebration of National Festivals in the slums increased the motivation levels of different segments of the community. The hidden talents of the children are encouraged and they could perform well in various cultural events.
- Poor and meritorious students from Govt. schools are selected through a talent test and are provided free English Medium education in Varalakshmi St. Ann’s School, Rajam.
Yandamuri Mangaraju and his wife Lakshmi live in Chakali (Dhobhi) street of Rajam and their main livelihood is washing and ironing of clothes. Till two years back, both husband and wife used to earn about Rs 100 per day and struggled to meet the household needs. Government had sanctioned them a house but to complete the construction, they had to take a loan of Rs 40,000/-. After paying the monthly installments and meeting survival needs, they hardly had any money left to meet the educational expenses of their children.
During that time GMRVF initiated its CMED activities in their area. The staff from Foundation assessed the needs of this family and explored the opportunities for augmenting their income. With facilitation support from GMRVF, Mangaraju and five other washermen formed a group called ‘Mangammatalli Varalakshmi Rajaka Sangham’. Each member of the group was given an interest-free loan of Rs 8000 for purchase of pushcart. Because of these carts they are able to move around the town and soon their income improved. The group cleared the loan amount in 50 equal installments and also made a savings of Rs 1500 per member in the bank. Later, Mangaraju and other group members thought of purchasing sophisticated iron boxes that speed up their work with less physical effort. Foundation gave each member a second interest-free loan of Rs. 5,000/- for purchasing these iron boxes. The group is paying weekly loan installments regularly. Now Mangaraju and his wife together earn around Rs.250 per day. They could clear about Rs.25,000/- of the loan incurred for construction of house and have admitted their children in an English Medium school.